Interest in electric vehicles is gaining momentum around the world and most major car manufacturers are starting to produce electric cars. The increased interest and usage of electric vehicles (EV) would have to be supported by intelligent EV charging networks, and a local company, Greenlots, is set to lead in global EV charging solutions.
Started in late 2008, Greenlots is a Singapore-based company that designs and delivers hardware and software to enable EV manufacturers and distributors, utilities, municipalities and other businesses to set up their own EV charging network. Greenlots is Asia’s leading provider of charging networks with installations in ten countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Poland, Italy, Austria, UK, Ireland and Thailand.
Greenlots offers advanced infrastructure for managed charging of electric vehicles. It has a reliable, affordable, easy-to-install and convenient-to-use web-based platform that provides easily accessible charging infrastructure facilities across cities. Greenlots’ solutions include user-centric software and charging devices approved for all major global standards. The company has one of the most advanced smart grid enabled electric vehicle supply equipment available to allow utilities and network operators maximum visibility and control to optimize performance of the power grid.
Interview with Greenlots
Recently, we met up with Greenlots’ Managing Director and Co-founder, Oliver Risse, to understand more about his company and the EV business. Oliver oversees all aspects of the company, including product development, operations, finance, sales and marketing of its EV charging stations.
Why Greenlots started in Singapore
Oliver started the EV charging solutions business in 2008 because he saw the global opportunity for EVs but at that time it was difficult to get EVs and no one was talking about it. There was also a need to develop intelligent and scalable EV charging infrastructure that can be deployed globally.
Greenlots took a year to develop proof of concept for the hardware and software in 2009, and introduced their Mode 1 EV charger in Feb 2010. Now, their latest Mode 3 intelligent charger is considered one of the most advanced worldwide and can fit different standards. Greenlots has initially installed 10 charging stations for the proof of concept in Singapore and is working on the roll-out plan for the national charging platform.
Although the local market for EVs is too small, Oliver thinks that Singapore is the right place to start up the company because Singapore is a clean tech hub and they can test out their solutions here and develop proof of value. Greenlots’ solutions are developed and manufactured in Singapore, and sold internationally.
EVs in Singapore
Oliver thinks that Singapore is the ideal place for EVs as Singapore has a reliable electricity supply that is relatively clean, and vehicles do not travel long distances here. To increase the number of EVs in Singapore, consumer awareness and car manufacturers bringing in more EVs have to happen at the same time. The Green Vehicle Rebate would help but the price of EVs is still expensive and costs have to come down.
In Oct 2010, the inter-agency EV Taskforce appointed Robert Bosch (SEA) Pte Ltd to design, develop, deploy, operate and maintain Singapore’s EV charging infrastructure as part of the EV test-bed programme. Bosch will be collaborating with SingTel on the communications interface and Greenlots on the charging network to deliver a reliable and integrated infrastructure solution for EVs.
The charging stations will cater to the first batch of Mitsubishi i-MiEVs being brought in for the test-bed. In this initial phase of the test-bed programme, Greenlots will work with Bosch to install charging stations according to the number of electric vehicles available. The locations of the charging stations would be announced later. The charger used in Singapore has a special hose cable like a fuel station pump, and is probably the only one in the world using this design.
EVs in Asia
Oliver believes that the world market for EVs is exploding and the driver will come from Asia. Japan is leading in EV manufacturing and China would lead in EV users. China has already 27 million electric vehicles in 2007.
In addition, 80% of the batteries used in EVs come from 4 countries in Asia – China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. China also has 95% supply of the rare earth that are used in electric motors.
In Mar 2011, Greenlots announced the successful delivery of an initial network of 15 charging stations for EVs, for a major utility in Hong Kong.
Leading the market
Greenlots’ business model addresses network operators and commercial businesses, so the EV charging infrastructure has to be affordable and convenient. By tapping on the existing electric infrastructure, it makes better economical sense.
Studies predict 3-10% of the global car population in 2020 to be electric, and Oliver estimates that millions of charging stations are needed, more than the current estimated 10,000 charging points installed as of today. With only about 3-5 companies providing established intelligent EV charging solutions globally, Oliver believes that Greenlots has a unique value proposition in its intelligent and advanced solutions, and would be at the forefront of this market.